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Thought Experiments Gone Bad

BY Daily Blog

| Posted 10/19/09 at 2:05 PM

 

Lots of “thought experiments” have ended up in good things for humanity, but many have been disastrous.

The idea of a master race, for example.

Here’s another.

New York Times environmental issues reporter Andrew Revkin proposed a thought experiment when he participated in an Oct. 14 panel discussion on “Covering Climate: What’s Population Got to Do With It.”

At the event, held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, Revkin said that some people have recently proposed that there be carbon credits for family-planning programs. “Should that be monetized as a part of something that, you know, if you, if you can measurably somehow divert fertility rate, say toward an accelerating decline in a place with a high fertility rate, shouldn’t there be a carbon value to that?” Revkin asked.

Revkin then admitted that he recently proposed something similar. “Probably the single-most concrete and substantive thing an American, young American, could do to lower our carbon footprint is not turning off the lights or driving a Prius; it’s having fewer kids, having fewer children,” he said. “So should there be, eventually you get, should you get credit —If we’re going to become carbon-centric — for having a one-child family when you could have had two or three. And, obviously, it’s just a thought experiment, but it raises some interesting questions about all this.”

Revkin later told CNSNews.com that he was not endorsing the idea, just trying to provoke some thinking on the topic.

Perhaps it’s an idea better left unexpressed, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard of such an idea. A study out of the London School of Economics in August recommended more “family planning” as a primary method of reducing the world’s “carbon footprint.”

Ideas such as Revkin’s may be introduced as carrots at first — carbon credits, redeemable at your local daycare center or video-game store — but can the stick of population control, as seen in places like China, be far behind?